84 Shavees made a "Bald" statement at Soldotna High School last week, shaving the way to a cure for childhood cancer at the 5th Annual Kenai Peninsula St. Baldrick's event. According to event organizer this year, Soldotna Police Officer Tobin Brennan, this year's goal was to raise $20,000 and when the last clipper stopped buzzing the community had well exceeded their goal with pledges still coming in. Over the last 5 years the St. Baldrick's event has raised in excess $140,000. "This year was the best ever with great games for the kids, great food, and prizes for participants," said volunteer Marcia Jacobs, who lost her daughter, Anjuli, to brain stem cancer.
The St. Baldrick's event also took the occasion to honor local heroes in the battle to find a cure for cancer. Among these was local U.S. Postal Service employee Steve Adams, who has placed first for four consecutive years selling stamps during Breast Cancer Awareness month in October - making him undefeated in Alaska. Last year Adams was 10th over all in the nation for the program. "That's truly amazing when you think he was competing with all the major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Steve is our hero and we love his bagpipes," said Jacobs.
Also honored was 8-year-old cancer survivor, Joey Yurkowski, whose birthday just happens to be on St. Patrick's Day. Joey, who is diagnosed with leukemia, spent three years in treatment. He is now a third grader in Nikiski and Joey kicked off the St. Baldrick's event with just two words: "Cancer sucks!" When asked how he's feeling these days Joey likes to say, "Like I never had cancer!"
The legacies of those who have lost their battle with cancer were also acknowledged, specifically former firefighter Steve O'Connell. "It was his final wish to bring forward his concern for childhood cancer. Steve has been a part of the St. Baldrick's event since its inception here 5 years ago and he was always willing to give of his time and his hair and money to support the cause, so we wanted to recognize him here tonight, because he's no longer with us having unfortunately succumbing to cancer at the end of last year. It was his request that any funds raised at his memorial or in his name here go to childhood cancer research. So we put a bucket out here with his name on it and any funds put there also will be forward to the St. Baldrick's research," said CES Capt. Jack Anderson. Donations may still be made in Steve's name on the St. Baldrick's website simply by going to www.stbaldricks.org/events/soldotna. Each year 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. It is the number one killer of children in the U.S. and Canada. To date St. Baldrick's has issued over $57,000,000 in research grants to find a cure for childhood cancer.
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